The Sleep Charity has published advice for parents to help their children achieve a better night’s sleep and improve their productivity and mental health as parents head into what the nation hopes will be the final weeks of lockdown home-schooling.
Data from the Charity1 shows that 70% of children under 16 have been going to bed later during national lockdown, with 57% also waking later.
The disrupted sleeping patterns are having a major impact on day-to-day life, with Charity data also showing that children have also become more reliant on technology during lockdown.
74% of parents report that their children are using electronic devices, such as TVs, tablets, gaming machines and phones, significantly more.
After receiving funding from the National Lottery Community Fund and the Coronavirus Mental Health Response Fund, The Sleep Charity launched its Teen Sleep Hub last October to support teenagers in improving their sleep and subsequently their mental health, alongside broader support offered to parents of children of all ages.
And as parents count-down to the re-opening of schools, The Sleep Charity has published its ten top tips for teens and young people struggling with their sleep that can be implemented from home.
- Set yourself a bedtime, this will help you get into a routine and benefit from a full night’s sleep.
- Implement a good routine one hour before bedtime. Adopt a restful activity such as crafts, reading or puzzles.
- Set a consistent wake up time each morning and stick to it. Open the curtains straight away, and if possible, get outside for half an hour to help to reset your body clock.
- Avoid screen activities for an hour before bedtime as this can suppress the sleep hormone melatonin from being created.
- Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature – around 18 degrees.
- Research the importance of a good night’s sleep to understand how it can affect your day-to-day life.
- Participate in regular exercise such as bike rides, walks or sport.
- Make sure your bed is comfortable and create a peaceful environment for sleep.
- Limit your caffeine intake, especially later in the day as bedtime approaches.
- Be mindful of your evening snacks – swap high-sugar snacks for low-sugar, healthier alternatives such as cereal, oatcakes or cheese.
Deputy CEO of The Sleep Charity, Lisa Artis, said: “Up to 40% of children and young people will experience a sleep problem at some point in childhood and we expect these figures to rise due to the ongoing pandemic.”
“There is emerging evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound effect on all aspects of society, including mental and physical health.
“An online survey created to explore the changes to sleep patterns in UK children during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that 20% children shifted their sleep pattern later by more than two hours and those with regular bedtimes reduced from over 90% to around 50%2.”
Artis continued: “Research shows that 68% of teenagers don’t get enough sleep3 on school nights, and a lack of sleep can lead to reduced concentration, poorer memory and a worse mood, as well as having a negative impact on the immune system, body weight and overall mental health.
“Children and teenagers are also getting less exercise and using technology more, while their usual routines have been completely disrupted, impacting on their sleep and levels of concentration during the day.
“Since the Teen Sleep Hub was established, we have seen over 7,000 visitors to the site4 and since the Live Chat facility launched, we have had a regular stream of young people accessing the service.
“It’s apparent that the UK’s children and teenagers are struggling to sleep, citing common issues such as
“For some children and young people, it is currently taking up to 12 weeks for us to see a positive change in sleep issues, instead of the usual five weeks. The issues we are seeing are currently more complex to treat due to the impact of the lockdown.
“Once schools do reopen, parents and children will be again thrust into a different routine, so we recommend that families implement more structure to their children’s night-time routines as soon as possible.”
To access the Teen Sleep Hub, please visit: www.teensleephub.org.uk.